This Land Is Mine

I envisioned This Land Is Mine as the last scene of my potential-possible-maybe- feature film, Seder-Masochism, but it’s the first (and so far only) scene I’ve animated. As the Bible says, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

This Land Is Mine from Nina Paley on Vimeo.

Who’s Killing Who? A Viewer’s Guide

Because you can’t tell the players without a pogrom!

Early Man


Early Man
This generic “cave man” represents the first human settlers in Israel/Canaan/the Levant. Whoever they were.




What did ancient Canaanites look like? I don’t know, so this is based on ancient Sumerian art.

Ancient Egyptian



Canaan was located between two huge empires. Egypt controlled it sometimes, and…




….Assyria controlled it other times.




The “Children of Israel” conquered the shit out of the region, according to bloody and violent Old Testament accounts.




Then the Baylonians destroyed their temple and took the Hebrews into exile.





Here comes Alexander the Great, conquering everything!




No sooner did Alexander conquer everything, than his generals divided it up and fought with each other.




Greek descendants of Ptolemy, another of Alexander’s competing generals, ruled Egypt dressed like Egyptian god-kings. (The famous Cleopatra of western mythology and Hollywood was a Ptolemy.)




More Greek-Macedonian legacies of Alexander.


Hebrew Priest

Hebrew Priest
This guy didn’t fight, he just ran the Second Temple re-established by Hebrews in Jerusalem after the Babylonian Exile.


Led by Judah “The Hammer” Maccabee, who fought the Seleucids, saved the Temple, and invented Channukah. Until…




….the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and absorbed the region into the Roman Empire…




….which split into Eastern and Western Empires. The eastern part was called the Byzantine Empire. I don’t know if “Romans” ever fought “Byzantines” (Eastern Romans) but this is a cartoon.





Arab Caliph
Speaking of cartoon, what did an Arab Caliph look like? This was my best guess.




After Crusaders went a-killin’ in the name of Jesus Christ, they established Crusader states, most notably the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Egyptian Mamluk



Mamluk of Egypt
Wikipedia sez, “Over time, mamluks became a powerful military caste in various Muslim societies…In places such as Egypt from the Ayyubid dynasty to the time of Muhammad Ali of Egypt, mamluks were considered to be “true lords”, with social status above freeborn Muslims.[7]” And apparently they controlled Palestine for a while.


Ottoman Turk


Ottoman Turk
Did I mention this is a cartoon? Probably no one went to battle looking like this. But big turbans, rich clothing and jewelry seemed to be in vogue among Ottoman Turkish elites, according to paintings I found on the Internet.




A gross generalization of a generic 19-century “Arab”.



The British formed alliances with Arabs, then occupied Palestine. This cartoon is an oversimplification, and uses this British caricature as a stand-in for Europeans in general.




The British occupied this guy’s land, only to leave it to a vast influx of….

European Jew/Zionist


European Jew/Zionist
Desperate and traumatized survivors of European pogroms and death camps, Jewish Zionist settlers were ready to fight to the death for a place to call home, but…




….so were the people that lived there. Various militarized resistance movements arose in response to Israel: The Palestinian Liberation Organization, Hamas, and Hezbollah.

State of Israel



Guerrilla/Freedom Fighter/TerroristState of Israel
Backed by “the West,” especially the US, they got lots of weapons and the only sanctioned nukes in the region.


Guerrilla/Freedom Fighter/Terrorist
Sometimes people fight in military uniforms, sometimes they don’t. Creeping up alongside are illicit nukes possibly from Iran or elsewhere in the region. Who’s Next?

Angel of Death




and finally…

The Angel of Death
The real hero of the Old Testament, and right now too.


Note: If you want to support this project, please notice I have Paypal and Flattr buttons. TAX-DEDUCTIBLE donations accepted via the nonprofit

884 comments to This Land Is Mine

  • Bob Sekhon

    Nina has done a brilliant job. Alexandra Hopkins is correct and this clip should be compulsory viewing by every person in the whole of the Middle East and especially the people of Palestine and Israel. If people are not willing to forget the past and start afresh, there can be no lasting peace. The minor omissions/missing participants in the historical message are minor issues but the overall message is clear. STOP NOW BEFORE IT BECOMES IRREVERSABLE!

  • Anonymous

    I am an american Jew and a staunch supporter of Israel. That being said I would like to say that I’m appalled by some of the other “pro-israel” comments here.

    1. If you view this video, which simply portrays the history of the conquerers of the land, as delegitimizing/anti-Israel you are an idiot. If you do not have the knowledge and education to defend Israel’s right to existence without being an historical revisionist or religious extremist, you are no asset to the pro-israel side, rather you are simply biased, ignorant and should not speak.

    2. I dont understand all of the comments about the zionist movement being well underway prior to WWII. Unless i am very well mistaken the point of this video is not to give an accurate census of all the groups living in the area during the ruling period, rather its depicting who ruled the land. Claiming that jews maintained a presence during all of the conquerers post biblical Israel, has nothing to do with who ruled this land and this video.

  • Professor

    Besides congratulating you on your great work, my one hope is that those who watch this video might get its core message: That violence will NOT bring about a solution, only death to everybody. Just as the Nazis were monstrous and mistaken in believing that killing all the Jews was possible and justified, so we should learn from history that “killing the others” never works, the longest duration fuel is hate, if you kill someone his descendants will come to avenge them and kill you, and then your descendants will go and kill theirs and so on and on forever. Enough with all “religions” that say that killing others is right, any “religion” that says that is immoral and criminal by definition. And also, although it will require an EXTREME effort on the aggrieved (and the ones who believe themselves to be so) to achieve it, peace WILL demand forgetfullness and pardon, for if we keep justifying war based on past mistakes and errors and crimes, we´ll never start a clean slate, we´ll never be able to break this odious chain of hatred and grievances. Every piece of land we live on today, was once the “property” of others, and heaven or hell knows how our forefathers won it. Our common past is full of blood and hate and suffering, and only if we are strong enough to forget and forgive and start a new world, we´ll never break free from it. Peace to all, don´t try to prove your side is right, but try to prove your side wants peace for real – it´s our only hope.

  • […] “This Land Is Mine“, an animated video by Nina Paley, to Ernest Gold and Pat Boone’s “The Exodus Song” sung by Andy Williams; “A brief history of the land called Israel/Palestine/Canaan/the Levant.” Also, see Who’s Killing Who? A Viewer’s Guide: Because you can’t tell the players without a … […]

  • John

    An excellent video, both in quality and its neutral and ironical content. I have a vision of this very song being sung by a Palestinian choir …..or perhaps even changing the words to “This land WAS mine”…..with the same sense of irony L

  • Hi Nina,

    I just wanted to let you know I think this video does so much to explain the futility of the fighting over the territory in Israel. It’s an unbelievably blase and crass video but with an educational spin on it – who knew that so many civilizations could lay claim to this tiny spot of land?!

    Thanks very much for producing it – I’d love to know more about how long it took yo and what inspired you to make this creation!

    Best regards,


  • Nathan

    Your point is that the whole fight over the “holy land” is a horrid and pointless waste of life that has been going on since history began.

    However, there are many inaccuracies which you need to address, and at least one outright apology.

    Here is the apology: You depicted the european Jews who came to Israel as wearing ultra-orthodox hassidic garb. However, ultra orthodox hassidic types are have almost always been pacifists with a deep revulsion to the military. Even today they almost never serve in the Israeli army. They believe indeed that the land of Israel belongs to the Jews, but they wait for God to reveal that truth by miraculous means. They had deep reservations about creating a Jewish state through human means, for many reasons, but mostly because they do not believe in war as a proper Jewish way to accomplish things.

    The Jews who came from Europe to settle in the land of Israel and set up an independent country were largely secularists. There were a few Rabbis who backed the movement, but they were not part of the ultra-orthodox community. So you really owe the ultra-orthodox a big apology for attributing to them violent politics which they actually abhor.

    On to your inaccuracies: Archaeological evidence does not show that there was a major conquest of the land at the beginning of Israelite history (lets say 1200 BC). In fact, the scholarly consensus is that ancient Israel somehow evolved out of Canaanite culture, perhaps influenced by an influx of escaped slaves who had some kind of mystical experience while living in the desert. (You can check out the PBS series “The Bible’s Buried Secrets” for confirmation of this.) Now, the Bible in Joshua and Judges does tell a tale of conquest. But then if you believe the biblical story you need to believe that that God gave Israel the land (something that no other nation ever claimed.) Then again, if you don’t believe in the bible than you should believe in the archaeological evidence. Frankly, even the Bible is not as clear as people think on the violent destruction of the Canaanites. Most people do not know that Joshua fought a war with Israelite soldiers defending some Canaanites from others. According to the Bible, Israelites co-existed with Canaanites for quite some time. The Biblical narrative criticizes Israel for having peaceful relations with Canaanites. Obviously, regular Israelites were not carrying out the instructions of their prophets.

    Having established that ancient Israelites most likely settles the land peacefully (according to the archaeologists) it is absolutely clear that there was an independent Israelite/Judean nation (for much of the biblical period there were two separate but related kingdoms)living in the Land of Israel. Sometimes they were dominated by one empire or another, as many smaller kingdoms were back then. Generally the Assyrian and Babylonian empires did not displace local populations or uproot vassal kingdoms. Unless there were rebellions. Rebellions by Israelites and Judeans against foreign domination resulted in population transfers. But no one ever doubted that this was the land of Israel and Judah.

    When the Persian empire took over from the Babylonians, they invited the Jews (the last remnant of the Israelits that identified themselves as such) to return to the land of their ancestors. This was a common policy in the Persian empire. Jews returned to the Land of Israel and rebuilt Jerusalem in a peaceful internationally sponsored movement. There were some skirmishes and the new arrivals needed to defend themselves, but it was certainly not a hostile conquest.

    We, the Jews, gave in to Alexander when he went on his wave of conquest, and more or less willingly became part of the Hellenistic empire under both the Ptolemies and the Seleucids. The Seleucids conquered the Land of Israel from the Ptolemies, but you miss the point when you fail to acknowledged that we were there all along being subjugated to this empire and that empire. When the Seleucids attempted to wipe out Jewish Religion and Culture (certainly a violation of out rights, even by the standards of the ancient world) we fought a successful war of liberation and evicted the Seleucids. We didn’t fight the Ptolemies because they didn’t mess with our faith. Our independent nation lasted about a hundred years before we were conquered by the Romans.

    Things went south with the Romans after we lost two disastrous wars against them, and the Romans re-named the province of Judea “Palestina.” When the Romans became Christians, they had some very powerful motivation to virtually eliminate the Jewish Presence in the Land of Israel, because as Christians they considered themselves to be the New Israel, and they considered the Holy Land to be theirs. The Land of Israel was possessed by the Byzantine empire (as Eastern Roman Empire came to be known) for many years. Needless to say, we did not agree with the Christians that they are the New Israel. This spurious doctrine has a name: Supersessionism. Go ahead, look it up. The Catholic Church ditched this belief in the 1950′s, although the starnge belief that Jews are supposed to be anm eternally dismbodies and stateless people persists, especially amongst Europan intellectual elites. Listen up. If you are an European Intellectual you need to own this particular piece of your historical DNA, because it will distort how you see any issue connected to Israel. Throughout history, Christendom has attempted to claim the land of Israel for itself based upon the spurious religious claim that since the Jews didn’t accept Jesus we lost the right to our homeland. We have never given up on our claim to the land, even when our population there dwindled. We never stopped trying to get back, one way or another…mostly just by moving there and trying to make a life.

    The western Media, when it refers to the Land of Israel, in a geographic sense, almost always says “Palestine” or “The Holy Land.” This is a direct result of “Supersessionism.” They refer to “Israel” as a country and think of it as located in Palestine or the Holy land. But to call the land Palestine is to perpetuate a piece of Roman propaganda. To call it “The Holy Land” is to insinuate that it is too holy for any single nation to posses. Any European intellectual will buy off on that. The land has a name. The Land of Israel. Eretz Yisrael. It is a holy land. It’s holiness is part of the Nation of Israel’s identity. Oh…would you like to have a holy land too? Sanctify the one you already have! Silly English! the Anglican church cannot find any Holiness in England unless they Sing their Hymn “Jerusalem.” and claim that one day Jesus will establish Jerusalem on England’s mountains green. They would really be better off going back to their roots and consulting some Wiccans!

    Well, the next tale in the saga is that the Muslims conquered the land of Israel from the Byzantine Christians. Islam makes roughly the same claim as Christianity does when it comes to the Land of Israel. Indeed, we, the Jews, received the Land from God, but our original religion was not Judaism. It was Islam. The Muslims claim that we corrupted this original Islam, which is why Muhammad had to re-reveal it in the 7th century. Supposedly, now that the Arabs have the True Faith…you guessed it! They get to keep the Holy Land, including the site of the ancient Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

    This is pure rubbish. We did not corrupt our religion. We did not loose the rights to our land. The amazing thing is that in the absence of foolish supersessionist argumentation, both the European Christians and the Arab Muslims know that we, the Jews, are the nation that first brought the belief in One God into the world, and that the Land of Israel was given to us by God so we can propagate that faith and help humanity achieve some kind of healing.

    You video is slanderous in the sense that it makes us out to be one of a long chain of conquerors of the Holy Land, when it fact it has been our land for three thousand years…AND EVERYBODY KNOWS IT!
    I really have to give the Palestinians credit for dreaming up an entirely distorted history, and drip feeding it to the world until everyone thinks its real.

    So here is the scoop on the Palestinians. Some are Arabs, who arrived with the Muslim conquest, when the Muslims conquered the Land of Israel from the Byzantines. There are Christian Palestinians who are descended from the Byzantine Christians…who came in when the Roman empire evicted as many of us Jews as it could. Many other Arabs came from other places when the English began to manage the area better than the Ottomans. What gives them the right to be here in the land of Israel? The fact that they lived here for many years? Guess what, Jews have lived here for ever. We were not in power since Roman times, so our population was often small. But our connection to the land is strong and never was there a time when we were not in the Land.

    So would you rather say that the Palestinians are here by right of conquest? Indeed victorious Christianity and victorious Islam both attributed their victories to God and took that as a sign that Jews were no longer in God’s favor.

    Well, if Title and Deed to the land of Israel is acquired by conquest…unfortunately, we didn’t conquer it that much this time around. We settled the land buy purchasing it bit by bit and then we fought and beat all those who wanted to destroy us. I guess that makes our claim somewhat weak. But I would argue that winning defensive wars gives you at least as much right as winning an purely offensive conquest.

    Bottom line, Ms. Paley, you are deceived…terribly terribly deceived. Like so many people today you cannot tell the difference between good and evil, truth and falsehood or honesty and fabrication. Your video is slanderous even if your intentions are pure.

    The Land of Israel does indeed belong to the People of Israel. All the death associated with it comes from human evil…the desire to posses a source of holiness in the world, which frankly happens to be ours. As if there was only one source of holiness in the world, and it could be acquired by force! Everybody is free to search for holiness in their own back yard. Search and you shall find! Leave the Land of Israel to its rightful owners! It is the story of Cain and Abel all over again. Cain could have found favor in God’s sight through his own effort, but he mistakenly believed he could find holiness through eliminating his rival. It doesn’t work that way!

    When ex-Christian Europeans and And Muslim Arabs decide to search for holiness in their own back yards instead of stealing the Land of Israel from us, Death will take an extended holiday. Until then you all bear the mark of Cain.

  • Geza

    “War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.” From the book of the prophet Daniel (chapter 9). This is exactly what is happening. But it will end with Jesus Christ coming back, and rescuing Israel from all those nations who unjustly condemn and attack them.

  • Geza

    This video lacks the moral aspects of the story. When a nation lost the land, it was often a judgement because of their morals. And some fought out of greed, other for truth and to protect the lives of innocents.

  • Geza

    “Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. 25 For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants.”

  • Martin

    Excellent. Briiliant animation. A terrible conflict e Explained with wit and humanity.

  • Bill

    @Geza “When a nation lost the land, it was often a judgement because of their morals.”

    – prove it!

    Sorry, but it’s all in the imaginations of the combatants, as is the idea that there’s any god at all, let alone one who takes sides in the petty affairs of one particular species of animal on this planet. The best aspect of this video’s neutrality is in how it illustrates Christopher Hitchens maxim that “religion poisons everything.”

    The idea of a RELIGIOUS STATE is barbaric, whether Jewish, Islamic or Christian.

  • thomasson

    Des réponses parle de l’attente d’un miracle, pour remettre sur le droit chemin!
    Très bien et en plus cela va pas tarder avec ce que le climat nous réserve.
    Profitez bien, écraser les voisins ou son prochains….
    De mon coté: je bosse certes trop, mais au moins j’aurai été utile, dans le respect des humains, mammifères, plantes, et la petite planète!

    Et surement peu encore mieux faire….

    aimons nous, tolérance, discutions: faut pas déconner ! il y a de la place la-bas autour d’Israël: mais attention que les peuples riches ailles sur des terre pauvre! car il semble que la bible parle que l’homme et la femme peuvent rendre une terre fertile avec de la sagesse du bon sens et ce qui est écrit au dessus. (et surtout pas que pour une génération) tel que l’eau…

    Sinon une guerre terrible approche: si ont fait pas tous des efforts.
    Et puis quand même vous les riches, très riches: qu’attendez vous?
    Que le peuple s’entre tu! certes pas bête! Mais tout de même vous allez tout perdre, car cela sera le chaos total et aucun milicien, militaire pourra vous protéger.
    Je pense qu’il y aura beaucoup de groupuscule qui seront sans pitié.

    Vous hommes politique: honte à vous, malgré que je vous comprend, la tache est ardu! mais ceux qui tire la ficelle et les draps! Dites leurs stop, ont OSENT recommencer, changer un certains System…

    Et fabricants d’Armes: que vous soyez bien jugés! par nous peu être (dans nos rêves)Les temps changes! et sinon, surement dans un haut-delà qui vous laissera errer pour l’éternité.

  • Molly Gitauny


    So here’s the thing. In any art (visual, written, performed, etc..), people use metaphors and symbols to explain ideas. That’s precisely how the imagery is being used in this (rather brilliant) film.

    Paley is very clear and explicit about her characters in her write up on this blog. But even without the explanation, the metaphorical usage should be totally obvious (unless one were to, say, deliberately misread the content to avoid its meaning).

    So here’s how metaphors work:
    From his posts, I might describe Geza as “corny”. But by “corny”, I don’t mean that he’s actually made from rich, yellow maize; I mean that he is acting schmaltzy.

    But by “schmaltzy”, i don’t mean that he is literally a pool of shimmering golden chicken fat, I mean that his posts are “salty”.

    And by “salty”, I am not saying that he is a collection of tiny mineral grains in a charming antique shaker, I mean that his posts are embarrassing.

    Get it? ;)

  • To Nathan: PICKY PICKY PICKY This land is mine is close enough to what is still going on

  • […] of the land called Israel/Palestine/Canaan/the Levant. Who's-killing-who viewer's guide here: WARNING: some might find the gallows humor […]

  • […] An explanation of the various characters is HERE.  […]

  • Thank you for this. Great comments too. So nice to see mostly intelligent comments and not illiterate ranting.

  • Ped

    Dear Nathan,

    Please review your comments. (And by the way this is as far as I read after such a profoundly incorrect statement).

    “Having established that ancient Israelites most likely settles the land peacefully”

    Replace peacefully with insidiously.

    Such is the case with most unwanted migrations of any culture.

    All the best with your mythology.


  • Bob GIlchrist


    I despair reading your lengthy comment. You appear to have missed the point entirely of this excellent film. It’s about people like YOU, Nathan – who idiotically believe they “own” this part of the planet – though some supernatural right. That’s the point of this film – with people like you and your baseless assertions, it is not going to end well.

  • […] the following video entitled, this land is mine by nina paley provides an animated, brief and poignant history on violence in the region… and the claims to divine rights held by the majority of those […]

  • Nina, I can see a bit of Chad Gadya behind the style of this clever film. Did you ever think of ending it ‘Along came Ha Kadosh Baruch Hu and Slew the Angel of Death’? But of course that is not part of the history, just part of the hope!

  • Tony Rennick

    Nina, I love the film. Great job!!! What program(s) did you use to make it?

  • Victoria

    Dear Nathan:
    If the Israelites were always in Canaan, then why are there so many stories in the holy book about them being strangers and wandering and fighting to have their place? How about Abraham moving from Ur?
    How about his 12 grandsons attacking and killing a whole city while they were recuperating from an act of self-mutilation while trying to coexist by cutting their foreskins off to please the newcomers? And–Akhenaten was the guy who started a belief in One God just 2 centuries BEFORE your 1200 BC date for the Israelites. I personally find that the One God idea has been the bane of our existence, because every one wants to claim their special connection to God (which I think every one does have, if they weren’t so lazy or afraid) in an exclusive religion–that no other group has. On that I agree with you, but only so far. In this, the video was brilliant in showing how very sad and wasteful our “being right and chosen” has caused so much hate, cruelty, grief and loss. For that I am grateful and applaud Miss Paley.

  • First I have to say: great video. I thoroughly enjoyed it. You are really a good artist for coming up with something like that. Something where you say: “why hasn’t somebody made something similar before?”. That is when you know it is good.
    Now some advice for the people who had the urge to post comments like:
    “You forgot the Persians”
    “The clothes of X people is wrong”
    “The hassidic jews weren’t violent.”

    Just look at Nathan’s lengthy comment. What a waste of time. If you depict something in the broadest sense, like history over 1000′s of years, does it really matter – for example – precisely what clothing they wore?

    Furthermore, it’s freaking art!

    Seriously, let us criticise Picasso for Guernica. He forgot details regarding the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish civil war. Pablo must have been a retard for not knowing. Too bad he is dead because we should, must and would have told him that he got it all wrong.

  • This was brilliant, entertaining, and compassionate – great video and should be used to educate others on the futility of the situation in Palestine/Israel. Thanks for sharing. :)

  • Antonio

    Fantastic work Nina. The endless slaughter that this excellent cartoon depicts – and often in the name of God and bloody religion! – initially made me rather sad. It is hard to imagine that any patch of rocks and dirt forever drenched in blood can be called holy. The killing that we see all over the world in the name of some great imaginary chap in the sky is mind boggling. As the song says,”God gave this land to me”…..this is one of the misconceptions/beliefs that fuels the endless violence.
    What is inspiring here is the discussion that is stimulated by your work, and perhaps some of the more narrow minded will stop and think. If not it is truly the angel of death who will continue his firm grasp of ‘His land’ . Thanks.

  • Paul Badger

    Brilliant video, so fun! I love the video, I love all the comments. It’s all still going on right here! Even your ending seems prophetic, given a few more years, the land is bound to be a bit radioactive. (Jews conveniently forget they hold the trump card, when they play the victim card.)

    After the radioactive phase, necessitating a sudden plunge in population I imagine, people will slowly return to the rubble, start building it up again, and again prepare for the next war. Anyway I’m rambling about the post-apocalyptic scifi version of your video I see in my head. No worse than the average comment in this comment list though!

    Or the group of liberal secularists on each side can muster the courage to tell the religious wackos on their own teams to shut up and then manage to cut a halfway fair deal together. It’s dangerous business though – Rabin got himself assassinated for his efforts by one of the religious wackos “on his own side”.

    Again, thanks for the brilliant, funny and illuminating video.

  • […] I tried to point this out in a Facebook discussion the other day… and I was accused of being “biased” and holding a “double standard” because I ignored the fact that Israel is occupying Palestinian land. For the record, I have no interest in re-hashing the arguments for or against, or who did what to whom, or even “whose land” it is… and the argument that Israel/Palestine historically “belongs” to somebody is particularly irritating bullshit. I’ve got a degree in Classical History and, as illustrated quite effectively by Nina Paley, every major actor in the Middle East has owned that patch of real estate at least once in the last 5… […]

  • Zoli

    Nathan live with it. You guys are one of the many. And everyone knows that, even you, the Jews.

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>